Microspectroscopic Failure Analysis

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Effective Failure Analysis

Determine the Chemical Reason Behind Product Failure.

Polymer and Plastic Products

Detect Wrong Composition, Identify Contamination.


Determine Contamination.


Identify Particles and Inclusions.


Analyze Defective Car Parts.


Examine Inhomogeneity.

Effective Failure Analysis
with FTIR and Raman Micro Spectroscopy

Product defects can have dramatic consequences for both the customers and also the manufacturer. At worst they result in physical injury, compensation claims, loss of production and damage caused by a negative public image. Therefore, an effective failure analysis is essential to prevent such scenarios as much as possible.

There are many types of defects that may lead to product failure. Particles in pharmaceutical products like liquid formulations are a potential health risk for the patient. The failure of polymer and plastic materials is often caused by a wrong composition or an inhomogeneous distribution of the used components. Contaminations like particles or inclusions are generally unwanted in many products but certainly a problem for electronic devices.

As such defects are often extremely small or require a spatially resolved analysis, they are hard or even impossible to analyze by a macroscopic measurement. Therefore, failure analysis typically requires to utilize microscopic methods. For the characterization of the physical properties of defects optical and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is applied. Additionally, energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDX) provides information on elemental level.

However, a crucial factor for efficient failure analysis is a fast and accurate identification of the chemical composition of the defective product. Infrared and Raman spectroscopy are powerful methods to determine the identity of organic and also inorganic materials.

The FTIR microscope LUMOS and the Raman Microscope SENTERRA II are powerful tools for failure analysis since they allow to obtain information about the chemical composition anywhere on the sample with a high lateral resolution.

Examples of Failure Analysis:

Principle of FTIR Spectroscopy

FTIR Spectroscopy uses invisible infrared light and analyzes the absorption intensity at different wavelengths. The IR spectrum of any sample reflects its molecular composition – just like a chemical fingerprint (see image below). Both organic and inorganic chemical components contribute to the sample spectrum. Therefore, the IR method is very suitable to identify as well pure compounds as complex materials. Furthermore, the quantification of individual components inside the analyzed material is feasible. For most samples, the FTIR analysis is performed without sample preparation and without the need of any consumables.

Learn more about IR spectroscopy using our interactive tutorial (> 80 pages).

FTIR Microscopy Made Easy

LUMOS is a compact stand-alone FTIR microscope with full automation of all hardware components. Due to the outstanding performance when applying the so-called ATR measurement technique, the LUMOS is capable to analyze most samples without preparation. By virtue of its complete automation and intuitive user guidance, it is very easy to perform the microscopic IR analysis. The intuitive software of the LUMOS guides the operator step by step through the process of data acquisition. At each step, the user interface only provides these functions appropriate to proceed. Although the LUMOS is designed to be operated by non experts for routine applications, its exceptional sensitivity makes it also very suitable for high demanding applications.

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LUMOS allows to analyze as well homogeneous materials as complex multi layer systems like composite films or varnish. Next to the visual analysis and punctual IR measurements to identify selected parts of the sample the LUMOS also provides the option to perform fully automated grid measurements. Such measurements result in chemical images that visualize the distribution of the material components and defects. By means of digital spectral libraries the measured IR spectra are identified.

Learn more from our brochure about the features of LUMOS.
See exciting examples about how the LUMOS' large working distance eases sampling. AN M114.

Principle of Raman Spectroscopy

Raman spectroscopy evaluates the inelastically scattered light of a laser beam. At first glance, Raman spectra look similar to IR spectra but they often contain complementary information and show sharper lines. Raman spectroscopy is especially valuable for inorganic samples where IR spectroscopy sometimes provides only limited information.

Furthermore, Raman microscopy has the capability to measure samples that are inside of closed transparent containers like glass vials or through water in a non-invasive manner. Transparent samples can also be analyzed via depth profiling where for instance multi layered polymer foils can be characterized with a very high depth resolution in the micrometer range.

Learn more about the possibilities of Raman Microscopy.

Further Information

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